Presentation of the destination
Birmingham, around 2 hours from London located in the west of England, has a population of just under 1,100,000 and dates back as far as Anglo-Saxon times. It has been an important residential and business centre since the Middle Ages, and can lay claim to inventing the steam engine and opening the world's first cotton mill, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. Today, Birmingham is still a hotspot for business, education and culture - it has the second biggest GDP in Britain, is home to six universities and has a number of internationally famous cultural bodies such as the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Its inhabitants, known as ’Brummies’, now work mainly in the service sector The city enjoys a temperate climate with temperatures of around 21°C in summer and 7°C in winter. It uses pounds sterling and is on GMT time.
Points of interests / things to see
Located in the city centre, the museum contains over 500,000 items and has 40 galleries. Its first gallery was opened in 1829 by the Birmingham Society of Artists and the museum continued to expand, opening its first public room in 1864. In spite of serious bomb damage in WWII, requiring 7 galleries to be rebuilt, it continued to grow and is now a treasure trove of art, archaeology and natural and social history. Visit collections of antiquities, ethnography exhibitions and a social history collection with war relics, to name a few, not to mention the museum's paintings - a big draw is its collection of pre-Raphaelite works - the largest in the world! However it also features works by Old Masters and Impressionists, including works by Constable, Gainsborough, Turner and Landseer, and a number of painters from the Italian, French and Flemish schools, as well as Impressionists Degas, Pissarro and Renoir. Appreciating art is thirsty work, so pop into the Edwardian tea room - a gallery in itself, it features paintings and impressive sculpted ceilings. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, B3 3DH; www.bmag.org.uk; email: MAG.Enquiries@birminghammuseums.co.uk; tel: +44 (0)121 303 2834; opening hours Sat-Thurs 10am-5pm, Fri 10.30am-5pm.
Another city centre treasure waiting to be discovered is this four-storey science museum full of interactive exhibitions and displays - this is the place to come if you want to amuse young holidaymakers while learning at the same time! The museum has exhibitions on the past, present and future, and has working exhibits. Step into the past and see the world’s oldest working steam engine, or check out the Spitfire plane hanging from the ceiling in the Move It exhibit. Stepping into the present, the Kids’ City gallery is perfect for families with young children to play in the miniature city, whilst Things About Me lets you explore the human body and the Wild Life exhibition features a real triceratops skull and is perfect for nature lovers interested in biodiversity and how animals adapt and communicate with each other. Finally, pop out to the science garden where you can see the 8.5m tall Terminus which shows you how objects move, or check out the museum's out-of-this-world Planetarium. Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, Millennium Point, Birmingham, B4 7AP; tel: +44 (0)121 202 2222; email: email@example.com; web: www.thinktank.ac; £11.00 per adult ticket with advance booking/£12.25 on the day, £7.50/£8.40 for children. Open 10am-5pm 7 days a week.
This Medieval castle was first built by William the Conqueror but was adapted in the 12th and 14th century. Located a short drive from Birmingham, it has been opening its doors to tourists since the 17th century and is now an interactive museum designed for both adults and children with storytellers, demonstrations and activities which bring the castle to life. Climb the castle’s towers, some as high as 40 metres, for views over the grounds, or go to Merlin's tower for an interactive experience based on the popular TV show, complete with fire-breathing dragon! Alternatively, take a stroll in the 64 acres of landscaped garden, including a rose garden, topiary and even its own island. For children there is a playground, while back in the castle there are six restaurants and cafés to choose from. Then, if you dare, take a trip to the castle's dungeons where the castle's gruesome past comes to life... do you dare to enter? Open daily from 10am until 5 or 6pm, you can save 20% when you book online on www.warwick-castle.com; tel: 01926 495 421; price with 20% discount: £20.40 for adults, £16.50 for children. Warwick Castle, Warwick, CV34 4QU.
A stone’s throw from national rail links and in the city centre, today the Bullring is a sophisticated shopping centre but the site has been used commercially since the 12th century when it was opened as a market by Peter de Bermingham, a local businessman, in 1154. As Birmingham’s textile trade developed, the market grew in importance and eventually this whole area of the city was reserved for market trading, as well as being a popular meeting place for political groups and demonstrations. Nowadays the Bullring shopping centre contains more than 160 shops, cafes and restaurants on three levels and is the perfect place to check out British high street institutions like Marks & Spencer and Selfridges. See if you can spot the statue of the bull as you stroll around and once you’ve worked up an appetite head to one of the centre's many restaurants or cafes to sample food from around the world - Japanese, French and Thai, to name just a few. Alternatively, head to Spiceal Street just outside the shopping centre for even more choice. Bullring Shopping Centre, Birmingham, B5 4BU; tel: +44 (0)121 632 1526; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; open 10am-8pm Mon-Fri, 9am-8pm Sat and 11am-5pm Sun.
Located in a striking art deco building designed by Robert Atkinson, one of the leading lights in the art deco movement, the building was constructed to house the museum and was opened in 1939 by Queen Mary. It was founded by the daughter of a wealthy businessman, Lady Barber, and the museum’s mission is 'to promote the study and encouragement of art and music'. The museum contains paintings from some of the world's famous artists, such as Botticelli, Rubens, Monet and Van Gogh, to name just a few, and also hosts beautiful sculptures such as Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Age of Bronze’. Alternatively, take a look at the variety of smaller exhibitions ranging from pieces that form part of the Barber Collection to modern exhibitions which change regularly, looking at the people and communities of Birmingham. There are also regular Community Days, tours and talks - check http://barber.org.uk/events/ for more details, and the museum also hosts regular evening and lunchtime concerts which have taken place for more than 60 years. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TS; opening hours: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 11am-5pm; tel: +44 (0)121 414 7333; email: email@example.com; no admission fee.
Slightly north-west of the city centre is the area which produces 40% of the jewellery made in the UK and is the largest concentration of jewellery businesses in Europe - over 500 within 3 square miles. Jewellery-making activity in the area dates back to the 16th century and although industry has declined in recent years, the Quarter has reinvented itself as a hub of creative and artistic activity which is also a popular place to live. Go on a Pavement Trail around the area or visit one of the area’s many museums, churches and historical buildings. www.jewelleryquarter.net/visit/thingstodo; Hockley, Birmingham.
Visited by over a million chocoholics every year and a must for those with a sweet tooth, Cadbury World is home to the production of Cadbury chocolate, including Dairy Milk, Bourneville and more. The tour takes you on a journey through time as you discover who first used chocolate and how it arrived in Europe. Watch how chocolate is made and then buy your own momento from the shop to take home. Cadbury World, Linden Road, Bourneville, Birmingham, B30 2LU; tel: +44 (0)844 880 7667; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; opening times vary, see www.cadburyworld.co.uk for information. Adult tickets: £15.50, children: £11.70. Family tickets available.
Have your very own forest adventure at Go Ape! Swing down zip wires, try the Tarzan Swing and make your way across treetop crossings surrounded by beautiful forest. It is also great for kids, who can take on the Junior route, and a recent addition to the park is the forest Segwey adventure, lasting an hour. Prices vary from £30 an adult ticket for the Tree Top Adventure to £17 for the Junior Adventure. Book online at goape.co.uk. Cannock, Worcestershire; tel: +44 (0)843 770 3752; email: email@example.com; open 8am-9pm Mon-Fri, 8am-7pm Sat and Bank Holidays, 9am-7pm Sun. Closed in December and January.
Around 20% of Birmingham’s population is Asian and the Balti triangle is the centre of Asian culture, business and cuisine. The area is named after the Balti curry, which was invented in Birmingham by Pakistani residents. Wander down Ladypool Road and take a look in shops selling traditional saris, scarves and kaftans, browse the jewellery shops, or head straight for the curryhouses - there are close to 30 restaurants in the area and you can even book your own Balti Break at www.balti-birmingham.co.uk/visit/balti-breaks. The Balti Triangle is located 20 minutes from the city centre, in Sparkhill, Balsall Heath and Moseley.
Vacation rentals in Birmingham (England)
How to get there ?
How to get there and around By air: Birmingham Airport is served by more than 50 airlines from 100 destinations. It is next to the M42 motorway and Birmingham International Station is located right next to it, with connections to the city centre taking just 10 minutes. By rail: Birmingham New Street station has excellent national connections to London and many other destinations. www.nationalrail.co.uk; +44 (0)8457 48 49 50. By road: Birmingham is linked to a number of major motorways such as the M5, M6 and M1, to name a few. The city centre has extensive parking facilities; there are over 25,000 spaces available. www.birminghamairport.co.uk; +44 (0)871 222 0072. By coach: National Express coaches stop at Digbeth Bus Station, just a few minutes from the city centre. Connections are frequent, including an hourly service to and from London. www.nationalexpress.com; +44 (0)8717 818178. In Birmingham: the city is served by 8 local rail lines, as well as a Metro line and many bus links. However within the city centre you can walk to most places. Alternatively, hire a car from one of the many providers or hail a black cab - TOA Taxis are the biggest firm in the city (www.toataxis.net) For more information and bus and train timetables, check www.networkwestmidlands.com or call +44 (0)871 200 22 33.
Birmingham city hall
Hotels in Birmingham (England)